Federal Prosecutors Charge 8 in $45 Million ATM Scam

Sunday, May 12, 2013
Accused ATM thieves Elvis Rafael Rodriguez and Emir Yasse Yeje pose with $40,000 in cash (photo: United States Attorney's Office)

The Internet has redefined how people socialize, shop, get their news, and now, how to rob a bank.


Using stolen information obtained by hackers, an international ring of thieves managed to illegally withdraw $45 million from ATM machines in more than two dozen countries.


In New York City alone, the robbers hit nearly 3,000 ATMs over a 10-hour period and stole $2.4 million.


At least eight men involved in the New York scheme were indicted by a federal prosecutor, including their suspected ringleader, who was killed in the Dominican Republic last month. Local authorities say the man, Alberto Yusi Lajud-Peña, was gunned down by others involved in the robberies over how to divvy up the stolen money. The “cashers” were allowed to keep 20% of the haul.


Those operating in New York and other countries used account information provided by accomplices who hacked their way into banks issuing prepaid debit cards. The hackers managed to lift the limits on unissued accounts, allowing thieves on the ground to withdraw millions of dollars while not raising immediate suspicions because no individual consumers were affected.


The culprits first struck on December 22 when hackers infiltrated a credit card processor that worked with the National Bank of Ras Al-Khaimah PSC, or RAKBANK, in the United Arab Emirates. This led to the theft of $5 million through 4,500 ATM withdrawals occurring in 20 countries.


A second operation took place on February 19, after hackers targeted the Bank of Muscat in Oman. Within 10 hours, cashers in 24 countries executed 36,000 ATM withdrawals totaling about $40 million.


The criminals then laundered the money through purchases of luxury items like Rolex watches and high-end automobiles.


Authorities have not yet revealed who they think are the masterminds of the international ATM scheme.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

In Hours, Thieves Took $45 Million in A.T.M. Scheme (by Marc Santora, New York Times)

Feds Charge 8 Alleged Mules in $45 Million Global Cyber Bank Heist (by Kim Zetter, Wired)

$45M Bank Hack Suspect Was Shot Dead While Playing Dominoes (b by Kim Zetter, Wired)


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